Skip to content

Jamari Traylor’s story, and why he’s so easy to root for

Jun 11, 2013, 2:17 PM EDT

Jamari Traylor, Derrick Nix, Denzel Valentine AP

If there is anyone that you should be rooting for in college hoops, regardless of where your fan allegiance lies, it’s Kansas forward Jamari Traylor.

His story has been told multiple times. To make a long story short (even though you should take the time to read one, or both of those links), Traylor found out that his father got a life sentence for cocaine trafficking when he was a freshman in high school. It sent him on a downward spiral that, eventually, got him kicked out of his mom’s house and forced him into homelessness for about a year. 

If you think you’ve experienced a cold, Chicago winter, imagine spending it sleeping in the back of a rusted out Buick. It got to the point that Traylor was going to school simply so he would have something to eat. With the help of a local high school coach, Traylor was able to pull himself off of the streets and, eventually, to IMG Academy, which led him to Lawrence, KS.

It hasn’t been the easiest two years for Traylor at Kansas, as he had to redshirt his freshman year because he was academically ineligible and spent much of last season glued to the bench. 

But that’s a breeze compared to what Traylor’s already been through in his life. He’s appreciative of his opportunity, enough so that he broke down in tears as he was introduced to a crowd of kids at a Kansas basketball camp this week.

“That’s coach Self. He knows me. He’s proud of me. It’s good for him to share that with the kids, so I understand,” Traylor told KUSports.com’s Gary Bedore. “Sometimes I just get emotional in talking about it. It’s crazy. Little kids look up to me. My life can inspire other people, so it’s a little touching to me.”

Last week, we took a look at the Kansas program and how they have become so successful at developing players at the college level. Self should expect nothing less from Traylor, who is a terrific athlete that has a high-level motor and doesn’t have an issue with working hard to improve. 

He may make the NBA one day, and he may not. But the bottom line is that he is an inspiration, an example that even those in the worst situations can make it out.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Latest Posts
  1. Former California commit headed to Oklahoma State

    Jul 1, 2015, 10:05 PM EDT

    Travis Ford Travis Ford

    Dillard becomes Oklahoma State’s fourth addition to the program.

  2. United States U19 team rolls past Argentina at FIBA World Championships

    Jul 1, 2015, 9:00 PM EDT

    Nike Elite Youth Basketball League Getty Images

    Next up for the United States is Italy, and they could run into hosts Greece in the semifinals.

  3. San Diego State signee requests release from National Letter of Intent

    Jul 1, 2015, 8:10 PM EDT

    Steve Fisher AP

    Jones recently received his qualifying score on the SAT, only to inform SDSU that he wanted to be released from his NLI.

  4. Former Illinois women’s basketball players file lawsuit against athletic director, head coach and former assistant

    Jul 1, 2015, 6:45 PM EDT

    Matt Bollant (AP Photo) AP

    AD Mike Thomas stated in May that there would be an investigation into the allegations.

  5. Re-ranking the recruiting classes: Who are the 25 best players from the Class of 2006?

    Jul 1, 2015, 5:03 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    KD, Stephen and Russ lead the way, and two of those three weren’t even ranked coming out of high school.

  6. Three-star 2015 forward Roman Davis commits to California

    Jul 1, 2015, 4:50 PM EDT

    Cuonzo Martin AP

    Cal already has two members of its 2015 class on campus, and they added another to the mix Wednesday.

  7. Is a seven-foot Greek center considering playing college ball in the US?

    Jul 1, 2015, 3:54 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    He’s currently teammates with a soon-to-be Oregon Duck. Hmm …

  8. Cincinnati lands two commitments on Wednesday

    Jul 1, 2015, 1:53 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP Photo

    That makes three commitments in 24 hours for Cincinnati.

  9. Penn State lands commitment from UConn transfer

    Jul 1, 2015, 12:30 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP Photo

    Terrence Samuel was recruited over at UConn.

  10. Star Kansas freshman Carlton Bragg injured on trip to South Korea

    Jul 1, 2015, 11:24 AM EDT

    Kelly Kline, Getty Images Kelly Kline, Getty Images

    Kansas is in South Korea repping the USA in the World University Games.

  11. Minnesota coach Richard Pitino comments on Jarvis Johnson situation

    Jul 1, 2015, 10:00 AM EDT

    (Getty Images) Getty Images

    Minnesota head coach Richard Pitino gave his take on the situation surrounding Jarvis Johnson.

  12. Missouri still without sophomore guard who is nursing injury

    Jul 1, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT

    (Getty Images) Getty Images

    Missouri is missing sophomore forward Montaque Gill-Caesar from summer workouts.

  13. Mixtapes of Virginia Class of 2016 commits Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome

    Jun 30, 2015, 10:00 PM EDT

    2015 adidas Gauntlet Indianapolis

    Virginia has some talented backcourt pieces committed in the 2016 class.

  14. Bill Self impresses South Korean students with jumper (VIDEO)

    Jun 30, 2015, 9:00 PM EDT

    150527_billSelf Getty Images

    Kansas head coach Bill Self had the jumper going before practice in South Korea.

  15. Cincinnati gets commitment from three-star big man in Class of 2016

    Jun 30, 2015, 8:00 PM EDT

    Mick Cronin AP

    Cincinnati landed a big man target right before the July live period.

  16. Texas lands commitment from in-state Class of 2016 three-star guard

    Jun 30, 2015, 7:03 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Shaka Smart landed the brother of a recent NBA draft pick.

  17. 5-foot-9 Kentucky PG Tyler Ulis, dunking in slo-mo (VIDEO)

    Jun 30, 2015, 5:45 PM EDT

    Tyler Ulis (Getty Images) Getty Images

    Should I mention he throws the ball off the backboard to himself?

  18. Four-star Class of 2016 point guard commits to Butler

    Jun 30, 2015, 4:30 PM EDT

    (Nike) (Nike)

    One of the best passers in the Class of 2016, Howard Washington, committed to Butler on Tuesday.

  19. Rick Barnes finally addresses accusations against Texas

    Jun 30, 2015, 3:35 PM EDT

    barnes Getty Images

    Rick Barnes spoke publicly for the first time about accusations levied against Texas.